One year ago today I wrote an essay. It was a little sermon, really, using all the skills and knowledge I’d learned at seminary: exegesis (digging into the historical, Biblical, cultural, and literary background of a Bible passage), “big idea” sermon writing, and application. It represents decades of thought, prayer and Bible study, not just of this passage, but the whole Bible, Old Testament and New. This is what I have to offer. After the recent “religious liberty” rulings in North Carolina and Mississippi, I think it’s even more important to ask ourselves what is more Christian? To insist on our rights at the expense of others’ rights? Or to serve, sacrificially, even if it costs us something? We don’t have to wonder, Jesus addressed this issue in the Sermon on the Mount. Christians, our Jesus said “Go with them two.”
In Jesus’ time, the nation of Israel was under Roman rule. The Israelites were allowed to live there and practice their faith for the most part, but they had to pay taxes to Caesar and obey the Roman laws.
To the Israelites, the Romans were evil and ungodly. They had no place ruling over God’s chosen people in God’s chosen nation. That land had been promised to Moses and his descendants when God brought them out of Egypt. Their very presence in the land was blasphemous.
One of the Roman laws stated that any man could be required to drop what he was doing and carry a Roman soldier’s equipment for him for up to a mile. In the Sermon on the Mount, with his followers gathered around him, Jesus referenced that law and told his followers what they should do in that case:
“If anyone forces you to go…
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